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Remembering Lamyanba Irabot and his politics

by Rinku Khumukcham
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Lamyanba Irabot is one of first torch bearers of modern progressive politics in Manipur.  Not only his political positions at every political movement in the first half of the twentieth century Manipur were commendable, he is also a master of political strategy and tactics. His political carrier did not start with a radical position; rather his politics became more and more radical at every movement. He began with a linguistic movement for the inclusion of Meiteilon in the education system of his time and worked tirelessly for developing Meiteilon.  
His contribution in linguistic movement gave him an important place in the political scene of Manipur in the first half of the twentieth century. He was made a member of the Sadar Panchayat and received favors from the royal family. However, he left all these privileges after he joined the movement against amang-aseng which later culminated into the movement of responsible government. His rift with the ruling class of Manipur further aggravated when he openly supported Nupi Lan against the colonial designs under which the Marwari businessmen are exporting rice from Manipur creating a steep rise in rice prices in Manipur at that time.
Once a glorified member of the state administration, he was jailed for supporting the cause of the people of Manipur. He politics further expanded in scope when he met communists in Syhlet. He became a communist and when he came back after six years of imprisonment and exile to Manipur, he started working for a structural change of the society he found himself in. When the responsible government finally came to fruit in the form of constitution, he said that it is one of the most important chapter in the history of Manipur. But it does not mean that he was in agreement of the 1948 constitution of Manipur in its entirety.
He went underground when the protesters at Pungdongbam resisting the formation of Purvanchal Pradesh clashed with police. This event shaped the politics of Manipur for the future generation to come. After he went underground, he started waging an armed struggle against the state for socialist country. Many scholars, citing this phase of Irabot’s political life, have argued that he is the father of insurgency movement in Manipur. Nevertheless, both state and civil society organizations are now celebrating his struggle against oppression and exploitation every year on September 30.  

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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